The truth is, there is no right age gaps for your family – whatever age gaps you end up with, you will find ways of making it work.
When trying to decide on an age gap, you will probably find yourself weighing up the pros and cons of each possible scenario, and struggling to decide which one sounds right for you.
The thought of adding a new child to the family can sound scary, especially as you worry about how your first child will react.
You may feel concerned that you no longer have the energy to run around after a toddler, or that you couldn’t cope with (even more) sleepless nights.
A common concern for singleton parents is whether they will be able to love a second child as much (you will). If this is you, BellyBelly’s article Loving Two is a must-read!
For those of you toying with the idea of a longer age gap between your children – anything from three years and up – here are 10 reasons why this is an awesome choice.
Why big age gaps work #1: The older child will understand
Your first child is a little older and maybe mature enough to better understand the concept of the new baby.
An older child is less likely to feel left out after the arrival of a new sibling and will be better placed to understand the needs of the new baby, and to react with compassion and empathy.
Why big age gaps work #2: The younger child will get Quality time too
Think back to those hazy days when your first child was born. Those long lunches with mum and baby friends and the long afternoons spent cuddling and feeding on the sofa.
A longer age gap will allow you to give the second child the same treatment, though you may have school runs to fit in. Whilst your older child is at school, you will have time for some one-to-one bonding with the newest member of your family.
Why big age gaps work #3: An older child can get involved
An older child will be able to help out with the new baby, and this will be a great opportunity for them to build a strong bond with each other.
From running upstairs to grab a clean nappy to soothing the baby during long car journeys, your first child will have an active role to play in caring for your new child. Older children who read can make great little storytellers, which is a great thing for both siblings!
Why big age gaps work #4: Your older child will be more independent
With a longer age gap, your first child will be more independent. You won’t need to worry about changing two dirty bottoms throughout the day, because your first child will be able to use the toilet. He may also be able to get himself snacks and play independently for limited amounts of time.
Why big age gaps work #5: They won’t fight over the same toys
With a larger age gap, your children will have different interests and will play with different toys.
This may save you the hassle of acting as a mediator, desperately negotiating turns with the most popular toys.
Why big age gaps work #6: It will spread out the cost of childcare
Childcare isn’t cheap, and having two children close together can leave some families struggling to afford to pay their nursery bills each month. Two children attending university at the same time can also put a strain on the family purse.
By having a larger age gap, you can spread out the costs associated with raising children, especially during those early (and expensive) years.
Why big age gaps work #7: You won’t have to double up
Your first child will already have outgrown his infant car seats, pram and playmat. You won’t need to fork out on doubling up on these items, and will instead simply be able to dust off the cobwebs and use them again.
Why big age gaps work #8: You will have caught up on sleep
Unlike the parents of two under two, you will have caught up on your sleep by the time your next baby arrives. Your first child will be sleeping better, and you should be able to get enough rest during pregnancy.
Once the baby arrives, chances are it will only be the newborn keeping you up at night, so you won’t be running between bedrooms trying to soothe everyone.
Why big age gaps work #9: Sibling rivalry is less likely
Children born closer together in age are more likely to experience sibling rivalry. With a larger age gap, your children have different interests, and different focuses at any time and are less likely to compete over things. An older child may see themselves as a mentor for the younger sibling, rather than as a competitor.
Why big age gaps work #10: Your older child will be more attached
The longer a child remains an only child, the better attached he is to his parents. So the longer you wait before having a second baby, the longer your first child will have to develop a strong attachment to you.
Each family situation is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all perfect age gap. You must consider the individual needs of yourself, your partner and your existing children when deciding on when to have your next child. It’s also important to remember, that these things may not always be in our control. It could take longer than expected to conceive.